RECOMMENDATION 1258 (1995)1 on an action
programme for environmental education in teacher training
1.Europe has created a way of life, greatly dependent on scientific and technological
progress, which is now at the limits of its ecological sustainability. Questions are being
asked about the viability and the wisdom of unrestrained progressive development. At the
same time, the European lifestyle represents for many a desirable model of development.
Europe has to be made aware of its responsibility for the creation of economic practices,
models for living and infrastructures based on an understanding of what ecological
2.The most serious environmental risks and threats menace the future of Europe and the
globe. The challenges of climate change and transfrontier waste, the mechanical
manipulation of soil, the acidification and pollution of soil, oceans and fresh waters as
well as the exhaustion of natural resources and the disappearance of species of animals
and plants need to be dealt with in teacher training.
3.Environmental problems are caused by human beings and can be corrected by human
beings. Environmental education is the key to a better relationship with nature and the
use of natural resources. Teacher training is in its turn the key to success in
implementing environmental education.
4.Each child has the right to be educated in a positive spirit as a potential agent for
the betterment of the overall environment. Too often environmental education portrays a
scenario of unsolvable or unavoidable threats.
5.Environmental education and awareness-raising must be part of a community-based
approach to the problems, under which there must be a collective acceptance of
responsibility for the state of the environment, in addition to individual responsibility.
6.Environmental education must moreover be thought out afresh and re-constructed to
include a system of value education and moral responsibility which challenges those wider
frames of thinking and behaviour - scientific, technological, economic, social, political
and cultural - that reduce the natural world to nothing more than a resource to be
plundered for short-term consumption.
7.The concept of environmental education has broadened from protection of the natural
environment to that of the historical and cultural heritage; it has now widened to include
the notions of active ecological citizenship and sustainable development. This development
has to be reflected in teacher training.
8.Moreover, given the experience already gained in the field, it is essential not only
to offer the individuals concerned the knowledge and skills needed for implementing
environmental education projects, but also to make them aware of - and thus able to deal
with and overcome - the obstacles they may encounter when carrying out such projects.
9.The best environmental education programmes are visionary in concept and
participatory in practice. Imaginative, innovatory techniques and teaching skills need to
be created and developed. Daily life in teacher-training institutions can be changed to
reflect a more enlightened ecological perspective and so provide a context for pedagogical
10.The importance of environmental education and of teacher training in this field has
been regularly recognised in international fora from the initial conference held in
Tbilisi (Georgia) in 1977 to the new action plan for Nordic school co-operation adopted by
the Nordic Ministers of Education in 1993. Council of Europe texts include the Committee
of Ministers' Resolution (71) 14 and Recommendation No. R (91) 8 and the Assembly's
Recommendation 937 (1982). The proposals contained in these texts are, however, still far
from being put into practice.
11.The Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers launch an action programme
for environmental education in teacher training.
12.The main objectives of the action programme should be:
i.to learn more about the potential of environmental education for furthering
ii.to collect examples of successful programmes in environmental education through
iii.to develop awareness of society's collective responsibility in which all citizens
have differing but specific roles to play in a community-based approach to protecting the
environment, and to teach the target groups how to manage and exploit the skills acquired;
iv.to develop practical strategies for overcoming barriers to the successful
implementation of environmental education through teacher training; and to this end, also
to train teachers to identify, deal with and overcome the political, administrative and
institutional obstacles that often undermine the effectiveness of even the best projects;
v.to draw up guidelines on how to include the environmental dimension in teacher
training in general;
vi.to develop, test and disseminate practical adaptations (programmes, courses,
modules, credits, study weeks) of the principles generated by participants in the action
vii.to create and strengthen networks of environmental educators in Europe.
13.The action programme should seek to identify promising developments in educational
practice, curricula and teacher training.
14.It should also serve as an invitation to all kinds of teacher training institutions
to intensify their efforts for the promotion of environmental education. Teachers in
kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, vocational institutes, technical or adult
institutes should be encouraged to include environmental education in teacher training
programmes and to improve its quality.
15.Teacher training institutions should also be invited to submit sub-programmes to the
action programme. They should inform the Council of Europe of the successful programmes
they have organised in environmental education.
16.It is also essential to co-ordinate the various programmes carried out by the
European Union, OECD, Unesco and the Nordic and Baltic Councils of Ministers and by
non-governmental organisations (such as the Worldwide Fund for Nature or the World
Conservation Union) and to make sure that the action programme - while being aimed
primarily at central and east European countries - fits into both this range of activities
and the Council of Europe's contribution to European Nature Conservation Year 1995.
1. Assembly debate on 1 February 1995 (5th Sitting) (see Doc. 7189,
report of the Committee on Culture and Education, rapporteur: Mrs Ryynänen; and Doc.
7221, opinion of the Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local
Authorities, rapporteur: Mrs Robert).
Text adopted by the Assembly on 1 February 1995 (5th Sitting).